Category Archives: Five Stars

Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line

Lost in the circle, Found on the Line, by Maria C. Wheeler, is a self-help journal with a collection of different poems, inspirational quotes, and other forms of art.

The journal has some striking art forms and illustrations adorning the book. This inspirational book forces you to see the world through a shift in perspective. It asks some of the most critical questions of life: Who are you? Do you know where you are going? Are you lost in the circle of the world? Author Maria C. Wheeler presents the journal with a thoughtful and reflective voice. In these pages is the inspiration to take the reader out of the procrastination zone and push them into a journey that will lead to a more purposeful life. It encourages readers to be mindful of life so that they may learn to honor themselves and those around them.

We all are ultimately on a journey to find peace within our lives by connecting with others. One thing that I took away from this uplifting book is that to find yourself, you need to start living and celebrating life. A central way to do this is to live a life of purpose. You need to go round the whole circle and find what you connect with. It is about different decades of a person’s life and the essence of each phase and how hopes and dreams evolve during each part.

Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line is a thought-provoking read that will benefit you the most if you are ready and willing to follow the prompts in the book. I don’t think this book is for everyone, but I certainly think this book will be profound to those that are ready and will to make a change.

Pages: 84 | ISBN: 1952521475

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It’s Music Time

It’s Music Time by T.C. Bartlett is an incredibly detailed and enchanting children’s story. When a young boy is on his way to his music lesson, he finds himself getting distracted by a group of animals playing their own music. He finds it exciting and joins them, but he risks being late to his class!

T. C. Bartlett has created a children’s picture book with almost no words except on the first and last page to give some context  to this visual story. The author does an amazing job of using just illustrations to tell a fun story. Every page is easy to understand and is illustrated with rich color, charming characters, and movement. The transition between black and white and bright colors helps set the mood throughout the book, helping you to better understand the boy’s emotions the entire time. The story is very cute and the art is very well done and I am blown away by T.C. Bartlett’s ability to convey such an enjoyable story with only images.

The use of Bartlett’s beautiful artwork makes the story so much more enticing and makes this book stand out in the children’s picture book genre. The storyline is easily told by character’s expressions and movements, making it an easy read for kids. It’s Music Time is easily the best children’s book I’ve read this month.

Pages: 50 | ISBN: 0998471690

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The Cardiff Giant

The Cardiff Giant is a hilarious novel first novel, in a series of four, that is set in Cooperstown, New York in 2003. Written by Larry Lockridge, the short novel is narrated by Jack, an investigative journalist dispatched to Cooperstown to investigate the disappearance of the Cardiff Giant.

Lockridge gives an informative and entertaining description of the Cooperstown setting. In some detail he describes the physical appearance of the town and the many tourist attractions such as the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is also a breakdown of the town’s cultural diversity and a brief history on how it came to exist. This sets the scene well for the rest of the story and hints at some of the action to follow.

Intense and complicated characters are an integral part of the novel. Jack is open minded investigative journalist and is prepared to find paranormal experiences in his mission to discover the secret of the missing Cardiff Giant. He soon finds himself in a town with an interesting community that includes such diverse characters as Tarbox the town sheriff (and pig farmer) sisters Sheila, a set designer, and Esther, a psychotherapist, Thor Ohnstad, head of the local Chamber of Commerce (and inn keeper).  Each character has their own motivations and unique voice, including beliefs in alien abduction, rebirthing, astrology, psychokinesis and kabbalistic numerology. Jack, the main character, even becomes entangled with the characters and their beliefs. Their belief systems often compete with other’s beliefs, which Lockridge brings alive with intense and occasionally absurd dialogue between the characters.

The story is organized into three parts, with numerous chapters in each. Despite the numerous characters, themes and romantic twists and turns, the story is well structured. It is very easy to follow and flows well.

Despite the outlandish characters and sometimes wild situations, author Larry Lockridge manages to cleverly couple this with some serious themes of love, jealousy, envy and pursuit of self-identity. These themes are obvious at the start of the novel and are cleverly carried through right until the end of the novel.

I highly recommend The Cardiff Giant. Author Larry Lockridge’s writing appealed to my sense of humor, but I also enjoyed the deeper underlying themes of the novel. The Cardiff Giant also gives the reader an opportunity to examine their own belief system, and self-identity – if one feels the need to read the book for more than just entertainment value. This is a satirical psychological thriller unlike any other book I’ve read recently.

Pages: 164 | ISBN: 1771804246

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The What IF? Diet Plan

The What IF? Diet Plan: Transform your body and mind through intermittent fasting by [Alexis Cano]

I enjoyed reading Alexis Cano’s The What IF? Diet Plan: Transform your body and mind through intermittent fasting’ because not only was she talking to mothers, but to everyone who at some point has had an issue with their body. The motherhood experiences shared in the book were interesting to read and made one understand just how much of a struggle weight issue is for women who both have or do not have kids. Reading this book is one amazing experience that gets one carried away with the stories.

The author starts the book by explaining to readers what The What IF? Diet Plan is and I liked this discussion as it gives the reader an idea of what Alexis Cano will talk about in the book. Alexis Cano’s personal history with food, her weight journey, and how she tried intermittent fasting was eye opening. Through her experiences, one learns that no matter how hard things are, it does not hurt to try. Everyone’s experience with food is different and in her book, Alexis advises everyone to first understand their bodies before jumping on any diet plan. By knowing what your body can take or reject, you are in a better place of choosing what you can consume and knowing what portions to eat.

There are several important topics covered in the book. Some topics that had me intrigued were about why restricting calories does not work, the power of hormones, how different meals like breakfast, lunch, and supper work in the body, and tuning one’s fasting. Know what science says about the intake of water when thirsty versus intake of soda? The author has a full discussion lined with facts. The author also talks about myths and weight experiences that people pass around as facts. Reading this book makes you see that there is a lot of misinformation out there about food and weight issues. The author talks to people that want to either add or shed some weight.

I appreciate the author for not only talking about the body but also touching on the mind. Mental health is as important as physical health. Whatever we consume affects both the mind and the body. Alexis Cano is a brilliant author. She has a way with words and can easily convince one to adapt to a new, healthier lifestyle. The author also provides health tips and explains how best to adapt to a unique diet. What I like most about Alexis Cano’s writing is that the discussions in the book felt grounded in reality and felt achievable. She does not sugarcoat anything and tells it as it is. She gives bitter truths and openly talks about eating habits that are harmful to the body. Reading this book will not only help you achieve your desired body, but will also have you work on your goals while being in a better state of mind.

Pages: 129 | ASIN: B08K4RM5RJ

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Real Women’s Stories 2018

Real Women's Stories 2018: A powerful, inspiring collection of short stories by and about real women. by [Beth Kallman Werner]

Real Women’s Stories 2018, edited by Beth Kallman Werner is a potent take on the journeys of twelve women. The chapters of the book vividly present to the readers the upheavals of a woman’s life, and the struggles that often go unnoticed by the world. 

This collection brings together women from different spheres of life, transcending ethnicity, and borders. Narrated in a simple tone, the honest stories take center stage, immersing the readers in an incredibly beautiful journey. This book is a light-read, but the essence of the experience of these women is nonetheless powerful, leaving a strong impact on the reader. 

Each of the stories is vastly different from one another, but somewhere, there is an invisible thread connecting them, predominated by the indomitable spirit of these amazing women. The writings exhibit a seamless flow of emotions, difficulties, losses, and triumphs, and make us understand this world a little better, from the perspective of real women. These are not stories of world-renowned stars, but in their personal lives, these women are the superheroes– dealing with battles and championing them too. 

These stories are curated not only for women but also for men. It allows a glimpse into the life of a average women and documents their life in powerful words. This book reveals certain aspects of these women’s lives that are hardly recognized in society. From stories of war, surviving abuse, to creating a successful business– you will find a beautiful amalgamation of anecdotes, reflected through these short and gripping pieces. 

The stories are crisp and unputdownable, which makes them all the more impactful. Since these women belong to completely different backgrounds, the settings in each of the stories are vastly different. 

Through these twelve short pieces, you can undertake a journey to celebrate their wins, while also learning about how they paved ways for themselves in the world. As real, living humans, living away from glitz and glory, the inspiring tales of these women are sure to move every reader. 

I would like to give this book a 5/5, owing to its sheer simplicity of narration, and capturing human emotions, difficulties, and victories with utmost subtlety. This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to delve deep into the lives of women who live away from the limelight.

Pages: 146 | ASIN: B076Q3L3Q2

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Almost Daddy: The Forgotten Story

The prospect of Ben turning out highly successful in life looks like one any gambler would be foolish to bet against. Smart and resourceful, the high school senior in his final year also has high hopes for his future until he hits a major snag. He gets his girlfriend, who is two years his high school junior, pregnant. On her mother’s advice, they opt for an abortion. Both lovers’ young hearts cave under the pressure of their action, and they ultimately part ways. Ben is now a man secretly running from the intimidating shadows of guilt and shame. His frantic attempts to fill the gaping hole in his heart lead him down a dreary path of darkness, loneliness, and recklessness. No one understands why this once-promising young man is on a downward spiral, not even he does. But it all began after he almost became a daddy.

Almost Daddy by Gregory Mayo is a fictitious story centered on the trauma of losing a child to abortion. It’s a sensitive topic that has caused divisions in many quarters. Interestingly, Mayo doesn’t approach the issue from either standpoint we often see, the two extremes of right and wrong. He’s more concerned with pointing out the effect of the act on the people involved. To do this, he weaves a deeply touching tale.

The book takes us on a journey through the complexities of emotions and how unresolved issues can shape our lives. The prospect of dealing with the pain that comes from major negative experiences tends to chase us into the arms of escapism. We try to numb the pain or distract ourselves, but it’s buried deep somewhere, choking us ever so gently, till we begin to gasp for breath.

Mayo writes in simple, clear language but tells an intriguing story still. His work is yet another proof that great writing is not just about the words you use but how you use them. I was so caught up in the story that I felt I was reading a true story, maybe because the story felt authentic.

By making his characters come alive, Mayo ensures that you are emotionally invested in the story. I was steeply immersed in Ben’s life and followed his journey keenly. At a point, I wished I could have barged into his world and forced him to make the decision that would have changed his life. That’s was how badly I wanted to see him turn a positive corner!

I really liked the thought-provoking quotes at the start of every chapter. They are concise statements packed with profound insights relevant to the story. My favorite has to be the one from John Lennon, “one thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.”

If there was an award for “an impressively tactful novel on a controversial issue,” I would nominate this book. Almost Daddy is an heart-felt and emotional novel. If you enjoy fresh, fact-based opinions conveyed through immersive stories, you’ll love this book.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B08LDFDGXY

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Simply Spiffin!

Simply Spiffin! by [Terry Tumbler]

Spiff Tracey is one in a million. Case by case, he takes on the world. Fortunately for the world, Spiff outlives everyone and everything around him. His ability to continue to thrive well into the future is matched by none. Spiff also remains unmatched in his ability to investigate and bring the guilty to justice. When he is tasked with something quite different from all of his other cases to date, Spiff feels he is just the man for the job. Nothing is too difficult and nothing too challenging for a man of his means and vast experience.

Simply Spiffin!, by Terry Tumbler, is the third installment of the Carousels of Life series. Spiff Tracey, the book’s main character is virtually ageless and manages to bring his brand of investigative genius into every decade and every major world event. This futuristic tale smacks of science fiction while at the same time offering humor and bits of intrigue and drama. There is nothing Tumbler hasn’t thought of in book three of this series, and for a third in the series, I feel it can stand alone well.

It is always a breath of fresh air to come across humor in a book otherwise steeped in drama. Tumbler’s books have all of that and more. The bigger-than-life characters are well-developed and stand out against a backdrop of what can sometimes be overwhelmingly technical elements. Each new character is a treasure in Tumbler’s writing. It is not often that readers find themselves just as enamored with the supporting characters, but Tumbler manages to achieve just that effect.

One of the most unique aspects of Tumbler’s writing is the inclusion of song lyrics. There is nothing quite like Tumbler’s work. Nowhere else will readers be able to find the words to their favorite classic tunes woven throughout a work of engaging science fiction. It’s a special blend of music and mayhem and, as odd as it may sound, a nice fit. It’s a technique that is present in each of the works I have read by Tumbler and always makes me look forward to the next one.

Tumbler has again handed readers a fantastic main character, a stand-out cast of supporting players, and a wonderful science fiction plot. Spiff Tracey, the private eye and world traveler, will invite readers in, but Tumbler’s unique brand of writing will keep them coming back for more.

Pages: 336 | ASIN:  B08Q9YKT6L

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Finnegan Found: Surviving the POW Camps on the Yalu

Finnegan Found: Surviving the POW Camps on the Yalu by [John N. Powers]

The Korean War was fought between communist North Korea supported by the Chinese and the soviets, and South Korea supported by the United States. Known as “the forgotten war” for its lack of media coverage, The Korean War was incredibly bloody; but the main thing the war is known for is its enormous amount of American prisoners of war and the brutal treatment they received while under communist captivity.

Finnegan Found by John N. Powers is a historical fiction novel that follows the story of Paul Larson, also known as “Swede”. A nineteen year-old boy born and raised on a farm in Minnesota, who joined the Army in order to broaden his limited opportunities and save for university. When he is captured as a POW and sent to the war camps along the Yalu River by the North Koreans, Swede must endure terrible death marches under dangerous weather conditions where many soldiers died, physical torture, and eventually go through forced “mental conditioning” which consisted of lessons where soldiers were taught to hate capitalism. His resolve is tested countless times and the reader really gets to feel the emotional stress that he is under. His perseverance is one of the things that was truly amazing and I appreciated how well his character portrays this trait while still feeling authentic even under some stressful situations. This is a character driven story, and one with impacts that we can see today. This novel does a fantastic job of relaying the harsh realities of a dangerous time in a exotic location.

It’s amazing how author John N. Powers managed to collect so many real testimonies from those who lived the war and morphed them to form a single experience that realistically portrays the brutal treatment of POWs in the Yalu prison camps. While the topic approached throughout the novel could make for a very heavy read, with all the context needed beforehand. The author managed to write beautiful descriptions that make the situation understandable for any reader no matter how limited their knowledge on the Korean War. He captures the essence of life as a prisoner of war as described by the survivors who have opened up about their past.

Finnegan Found has incredible descriptions and a thrilling plot. It is highly recommended for historical fiction fans or really anyone interested in learning more about the Korean War or the long battle between communism and capitalism.

Pages: 445 | ASIN: B08BC2F76C

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